Posted by: catamarantwooceans | February 18, 2012

Sailing in the Philippines–continued

14.2.12 – Tuesday – We woke up quite early with our thoughts centered on the impending storm. The anchorage we were in was well protected but not very big. There was no margin for some dragging that may occur in big winds.

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                               Our Nonoc anchorage

Around 8 o’clock two local guys came with their canoe and a bunch of bamboo poles and started building a fish trap well inside our swinging radius. The thing was not that they "invaded" our space, after all it is their area and their livelihood, but that they were doing the work standing on the bottom with the water reaching their chests. Pretty shallow! We decided to search for a  better spot in the bay.

The weather improved considerably, even the sun showed up for a while. We went around the bay very carefully, tried a few places that looked good but turned to have reefs too close until finally we settled on anchoring in 13 meters on soft mud, again with two anchors in tandem.

Just after ten a.m we downloaded a new forecast. Surprise! Nothing like the one we had yesterday! There is a shallow low over our area but the winds will be less than 10 knots! Now which one do you believe? The doomsday or the mild forecast? The former was taken from U.S Grib, the latter from the Mailasail service. We were in a "GO" mood and decided to follow the newer, good weather one and immediately started up and slalomed between the fish-pens and traps, passing by Nonoc village as we motored out of the bay, uniformed children just out of school waving and shouting greetings from shore.

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                                                  In Nonoc village

We motored most of the way as the wind was light, watching every move of the barometer, which basically stayed stable. Sunset was a red one so according to the old sailors beliefs we should have good weather the next day.

15.2.12 – Wednesday – A tricky pass to negotiate was the one over Adams reef. Not only is it a bit narrow and shallow, 8 meters deep in places, but in addition there were so many lights around, fishing vessels of all sizes and other ships mingling with lights on shore, requiring the utmost concentration. On this part we both stayed on deck.

Most of the way was done motoring, no sign of severe weather anywhere. At 0800 we entered the bay of Port Carmen, looking to find Pinoy Boat Services, a boatyard that should be able to repair the keel damage. 

We could see the masts in the south of the bay but the lagoon was very shallow in places, fishermen standing in the water all around. One fisherman in his small canoe, saw our predicament, gestured for us to follow him and led us in, without asking for a thing. Of course he was gladly compensated for his effort.

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We anchored by the boatyard and I took the dinghy ashore to look for Zeke, the owner. The boatyard is situated in two basins on both sides of a shipyard, from which the hammering noise and sanding dust fill the air. After some running around I met Zeke and arranged the haul-out. Actually this is a careenage; the boat will be brought in at high tide and put on a ramp, supported by wooden planks. When the water recede the work can be accomplished. The tides in this bay are a bit peculiar; the first low and high water are centimeters apart but the second high water is much higher. Zeke also provided a lot of information we needed, like how to get to the authorities in Cebu and so on.

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At 1515, just before high tide, Ramil came to guide us in. We came in slowly, squeezing into the narrow entrance of the boat basin, where other yard workers grabbed our lines and pulled us gingerly all the way to the ramp.

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                                      Two Oceans careened

16.2.12 Thursday – The work on the boat was supposed to start when the tide should have been the lowest.  At 0830 Dudong, the man in charge of the repair, came over. "Bad news, the tide is not low enough, we can’t grind too close to the water". "Do you have jacks? lift the boat up a bit and you’ll be able to do it". Dugong nodded his agreement and went to fetch jacks and wooden blocks to support the hulls.

Dany and I could not stay to watch because we had to go by bus to Cebu, to present ourselves at immigrations and customs. We still did not have our passports stamped! We took a local bus to town disembarking at the Mendaue Metro Mall. Inside we found a huge supermarket and free Wi-Fi, which was the first time we had an excellent internet connection since the beginning of the trip. We then took a taxi to immigrations. We were led to an office, where a severe looking gentleman sat. I could not help but notice the name on the plaque before me, Ali Sabdulla el Hadj (el hadj meaning he went on a pilgrimage trip to Mecca and is a devout Muslim) and the green book, the Koran, on his table.

I gave him our Israeli passports and the papers from Surigao immigration. "How much did the officer in Surigao asked you to pay?" "Nothing". "Here you will have to pay 2500 pesos. 1500 for yacht entry and 500 each for passport stamping".  I asked for and got a paper confirming the payment and later saw on that the 500 was legit, but there was no mention of "yacht entry" fee.

On to customs in the Cebu port, where each clerk sent us to another until we got to the head of port operation who assembled his men to discuss this difficult situation. After a lot of talk he came to the conclusion that the papers we had from Surigao are good enough. "Just come here for onward clearance before you leave for Palawan".

We got back to the boat at 2 p.m to find the repair area already underwater. Dudong told me he grinded the area and put four layers of fiberglass-epoxy with filler material on top. Excellent!

Another job accomplished was the relocation of the A.I.S antenna. The guy who installed it in N.Z put the antenna inside the boat, in a compartment at the back of the starboard hull. During the voyage I saw that the reception was limited to a narrow sector, rendering the system un-usable. It occurred to me that I could use the position  of the T.V antenna that I have above the radar, as well as the co-ax cable, for the A.I.S antenna. Zeke sent Tony Cortez, his electrician, who did an excellent job. This will be very helpful entering Singapore!


Zeke came by to get paid. "Just hand over two thousands" said he. That’s Pesos and at 42 pesos to the dollar it’s an incredibly good price. I learned that the hourly rate for a electrician is 100 Pesos, less than 2.5 U.S!

A little later the launching crew appeared, pushed, pulled and rocked our boat to move her backwards into deeper water. Ramil, who lives near the north part of Port Carmen, commuting to work on his canoe, came along to guide us to the north anchorage, where quite a few yachts were at anchor.


 17.2.12 – Friday – A crew change is scheduled for tomorrow. Dany will leave for a two weeks "vacation" which he will spend with his partner in Vietnam. Two couples of friends are coming to Cebu late at night for 10 days. Gili will hopefully join next week.

The Cebu airport is on the island of Mactan which is east of Cebu city, connected to it with a big bridge. Mactan also has a yacht club where we thought we could find a berth. Seemed like the ideal crew change spot, so we motored over there.

We found the entrance to the yacht club after no one answered our V.H.F calls. We motored in to see a medium sized basin with no free space at all. We ended up anchoring outside. All my plans of washing the boat came to naught. Ashore we found a noisy city, the type I usually dislike. But those have their advantages, a big supermarket, laundry and internet.

a new chapter of our cruising story will open next week and, of course, you will be updated!


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